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Open Government
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"Americans are confronted each day with corruption," writes Austin Evers.

Corruption and voter suppression leave a paper trail

Evers is executive director American Oversight, an ethics watchdog focused on the Trump administration.

Americans are confronted each day with corruption. It blares from the Trump administration and many state governments. Public evidence alone helps explain why Americans feel that the system is rigged and that corporate and shadowy interests write policy to entrench their power at the expense of regular people. It is seen as politics as usual, a contest mediated through inane and exasperating punditry.

But in reality, the corruption is often starker, spelled out in black and white, in ways that are hard to write off. And when exposed it can be truly shocking — and can break Americans from viewing it as routine.

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Open Government
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A new law that requires candidates in California to provide their tax returns before being allowed on the ballot appears likely to be rejected by the state Supreme Court.

Trump likely to win tax returns fight in California, but battles continue elsewhere

The legal battle to pry loose President Trump's tax returns appears to be headed to defeat in the California Supreme Court, while numerous other efforts continue to move forward.

According to reporting by the Sacramento Bee, a majority of the justices on Wednesday appeared to side with Republicans challenging the new state law that would force Trump to release the last five years of his tax returns in order to get on the 2020 primary ballot.

During oral arguments, several of the justices aggressively questioned an attorney representing Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

"Where does it end? Do we get all high school report cards?" asked Justice Ming Chin, according to the Bee.

If the court strikes down the law (it has 90 days to reach a decision), the state could still appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Government Ethics
(Danielle Brian)

Danielle Brian is executive director at the Project On Government Oversight.

Meet the reformer: Danielle Brian, a dean of the watchdogs

Danielle Brian is executive director of the Project On Government Oversight, a nonpartisan independent watchdog that investigates corruption, misconduct and conflicts of interest in the federal government. A South Florida native and National FOIA Hall of Fame member, Brian has testified before Congress more than 40 times in the 27 years she's been leading the organization, which goes by the memorable acronym POGO. She returned to the group and took the reins in 1993 after interning there a decade earlier. Her answers have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

What's the tweet-length description of your organization?

@POGOBlog is a nonpartisan watchdog that fights to fix the federal government. We investigate corruption, abuse of power and when the government silences whistleblowers. We champion reforms to achieve a more effective, ethical and accountable federal government that safeguards constitutional principles.

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Government Ethics
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"Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has spent years in federal prison for releasing classified documents regarding U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," writes Jennifer M. Pacella.

Intelligence whistleblowers often pay a severe price

Pacella is an assistant professor of business law and ethics at Indiana University.

When President Donald Trump likened a whistleblower's White House sources to spies and made a lightly veiled reference to execution, he highlighted a longstanding peril facing those who come forward to alert the public to governmental wrongdoing.

In many instances, whistleblowers find the abusive power they have revealed turned against them, both ending their careers and harming their personal lives.

In the private sector, whistleblowers are often ignored and told their concern is not part of their job description – and are commonly retaliated against by being demoted or fired.

When a whistleblower is in the U.S. intelligence and national security sphere, they're often speaking out about misdeeds by powerful figures – and, as a result, have frequently faced death threats, physical attacks, prosecution and prison.

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